Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump to Attend Mount Rushmore Fireworks Tonight; Arizona Holds Annual Arts Festival With Some Safety Measures; Coronavirus Mutation Increases Infection Rate. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired July 3, 2020 - 14:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We continue on. You are watching a special holiday edition of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Brooke Baldwin, thank you for being here and a happy early Fourth to all of you.

Soon, President Trump and the first lady will head to Mount Rushmore to help kick off the Fourth of July holiday weekend, but the festivities there and across the nation are being overshadowed by the coronavirus, 52,000 new cases being reported, a single-day record in the United States. And 36 states are now posting a surge in infections.

Some places like Texas and Florida are breaking records. And now, Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Task Force, says folks in Florida need to get tested.


DEBORAH BIRX, COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: If you participated in a large gathering in the last four weeks, we ask all of you to come forward and be tested, because of the level of asymptomatic spread.

So we're asking for everyone under 40, that if you were in a gathering, please go and get tested, please wear a mask, please do all of the hygiene issues and please stay away from those who have comorbidities.


BALDWIN: CNN's Nick Watt is live in Manhattan Beach, California. And, Nick, I know part of the issue -- and it's a good thing I guess, I don't see anyone behind you. Is that beach already closed?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. But, you know what, here is part of the issue, and part of the issue that we have been having from the beginning of this pandemic. It's overlapping jurisdictions. It's not necessarily anybody's fault.

So, here, the beach is closed, the pier is closed, the bike path is closed but the city of Manhattan Beach has kept the strand open so people can walk. It just makes it a little confusing for the public to figure out what exactly it is they should be doing. But Happy Fourth.


WATT (voice-over): In Florida now, more new cases every day than any other state.

JENNIFER LEE, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: We know this virus is spreading rapidly all over the country. And the more people it infects, the more people will get sick. And eventually, more people will die.

WATT (voice-over): In Arizona, more people are already being killed by COVID-19 than ever before.

JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Now, the majority of cases are in people who have an average age of 35. And so those folks are going to have less comorbidities, they're going to be less likely to end up in the hospital and to die.

What we're really worried about, particularly with young people, is if they get it and then they spread it to their grandmother, to their grandfathers.

WATT (voice-over): Wednesday, more than 50,000 new cases across this country for the first time. Yesterday, it happened again.


WATT (voice-over): The president says it's just more testing. It's not.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We're setting records, practically every day, of new cases in the numbers that are reported. That clearly is not the right direction.

WATT (voice-over): On the state level, mixed. Vermont hasn't had a COVID-19 patient in the ICU for nearly six weeks. But in parts of Texas, we're told there are now waiting lists for ICU beds.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): COVID is spreading like never before.

WATT (voice-over): He's finally mandated masks. For most Texans, might be a watershed moment.

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, CENTER FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: I hope that every governor in every state takes notice and says, in one of the most conservative freedom-loving states that would (ph) been (ph) the last place you'd expect can do it, then it's really OK to say, Let's put public health first.

WATT (voice-over): In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, masks now required not just for the Fourth weekend, but all summer.

In Miami Beach, Florida, still no statewide mask mandate but the sand is off-limits again for this weekend. The mayor's message? MAYOR DAN GEIBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: The hardest thing to deal with are these mixed messages coming from the state and the federal government and from the president. We're telling people that there's nothing more American than making a sacrifice by staying home.



WATT: But it is, of course, different strokes for different folks. We've just heard from the Republican Party of Texas, they have voted to go ahead, in the middle of this month, with their indoor in-person convention in Houston, masks will be made available -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Similar situation in South Dakota tonight. Nick Watt, thank you.

Let me get to that, President Trump and the first lady are ignoring the coronavirus guidelines, ignoring the science, heading to South Dakota just a little while from now for this early Fourth of July fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore.

Something like 7,000 people are expected to show up and no masks are required, no social distancing will be enforced. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live at the White House.

And so, Jeremy, what are officials there saying as the president gets ready to leave?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, we've certainly detected no concern among White House officials about this event that the president's going to be participating in this evening, as he prepares to encourage thousands of people to join him at Mount Rushmore for this fireworks display, celebration of the Fourth of July.

Abut 7,500 tickets have been made available for this event, and face masks will be made available, but they are not required.

And the governor of South Dakota, in fact, made a point of saying there will be no social distancing. And some of the pictures we've already seen of this event, you can see rows and rows of seats, shoulder-to-shoulder seating.

It seems like we could see a very similar scene playing out here, as we did when the president recently hosted a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Same situation there, thousands of people, shoulder-to- shoulder, no face masks required, many people choosing not to wear those masks and certainly no social distancing.

So we are seeing the president continue to encourage these large gatherings, even as his own public health officials, like you saw Dr. Deborah Birx in Nick Watt's report there, saying, Avoid large gatherings and if you do attend a large gathering, please, please, please get tested. But the president, again here, Brooke, he is certainly forging ahead

despite the consequences we've already seen, what happened after Tulsa, Oklahoma, where several members of his campaign staff tested positive. And we've also just learned yesterday that Herman Cain, who attended that campaign rally, also tested positive and was hospitalized for coronavirus.

BALDWIN: We have heard, for this event tonight at Mount Rushmore, they will have masks, they will hand them out if you so choose to take one. Jeremy Diamond, thank you.

Let's go live now to South Dakota for just a medical perspective on this event at Mount Rushmore. Dr. Shankar Kurra is vice president of medical affairs at Monument Health. Dr. Kurra, welcome.


BALDWIN: No masks required, no social distancing required: What's your biggest concern for this event tonight?

KURRA: Brooke, as all the CDC guidelines recommend in large gatherings of this sort, masks, hand-washing and observing your distance. Watching your distance is very key to interrupting the transmission of this disease.

BALDWIN: It is outdoors, so that at least is on -- you know, on the plus side. What would you say to people who do want to go tonight?

KURRA: I would say, like Tom Frieden, CDC -- I'll quote -- he said the three W's: Wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. And if you're offered a mask, please, please, please take the mask. This is a public health emergency and our role as individuals, every one of us can do our bit by observing the (INAUDIBLE).

BALDWIN: How is the caseload in South Dakota in terms of coronavirus cases?

KURRA: So South Dakota right now is, we've got close to about 7,000 cases and the Western half of the state is where we are, in the Black Hills. We are about 900 cases. And we're seeing a kind of a plateauing.

And this is all because of efforts -- our collaborative efforts between public -- the public health officials, local and state, and following CDC guidelines. And that's something that we at Monument Health have, you know, kind of conveyed in several ways to our communities, to continue to do this.

And this has kept our numbers down. But, as you can clearly see, the tourism that we are known for -- the Black Hills are a beautiful place to come in the summer and large gatherings are what we'll be concerned about.

BALDWIN: You know, this whole mask issue, I mean, all the scientific guidelines say wear a mask. Just final question as, you know, thinking about this Fourth of July weekend -- for all of us, and everyone wants to have a good time, be safe but have a good time.

You know, I was talking to a coroner in Ohio, just a bit ago, who was saying, you know, at the end of the day, this shouldn't be a political issue. This is a health issue. How do you see it and do you think it would make a difference if the president of the United States wore a face covering?


KURRA: Absolutely. I think public health is very key to taking care of our communities. Nothing would be a bolder and courageous and more importantly leadership statement than to wear a mask and to model that.

BALDWIN: Dr. Kurra, thank you so much. Have a safe Fourth of July.

KURRA: You as well, Brooke, thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you, sir.

We are live in Arizona, coming up next, as this one town is moving ahead with its annual arts festival despite a record number of coronavirus cases in that state.

Plus, the next phase of trials for a COVID vaccine has been delayed about a month. We'll tell you why.

And CNN investigates the stark difference in the number of cases of coronavirus in the United States versus our neighbors to the north in Canada. What is Canada doing that is just so right?



BALDWIN: Arizona is one of four states that posted a record number of new coronavirus cases this week. And just looking at this graph, you can see the dramatic rise. There are more than 87,000 cases in the state. And we just learned Arizona had a record-high spike in E.R. admissions, up nearly 500 in a single day. And that means the state is rapidly running out of ICU beds.

But despite all of that, one town is going ahead with its annual arts festival. CNN correspondent Evan McMorris-Santoro is in Prescott, Arizona.

And, Evan, what is this event and why are they still holding it?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Brooke. Yes, this is the Prescott craft fair that happens every year around the time of the finale of the big rodeo here. They call it the world's oldest rodeo.

And I'll tell you, when you walk around -- you can see it's pretty busy, people are showing up -- when you walk around, you get a bunch of different answers. I've spoken to somebody who said, Look, I don't think this disease is real at all, I don't think we need to social distance at all, I don't think we need to do any of this, we should just go ahead with our normal lives. This isn't a real thing.

Other people are saying -- the organizers of this event are taking into account some of the changes that have come down from the governor as this case load has risen here in Arizona. For example, here, vendors and volunteers are being asked to wear masks, there are stations with hand sanitizer located throughout the place.

But I want to show you just how different it is for people who are coming here versus people who are working here. There are signs everywhere, urging people to pay attention to the way things are changing because of the COVID-19 outbreak here.

But you can see when it comes to face masks -- again, required for vendors -- if you're an attendee, it simply says, "Feel free to cover your mouth and nose" at your discretion. So it's not required here. But as I've walked around -- and I've been here all morning -- people are wearing them. You see some people wearing them, some people not.

But that's what Prescott is trying to do, they're trying to make that balance between keeping this important part of their economy open this holiday weekend by having this event, and also giving people the discretion to wear a mask in a place where some people just don't want to do it -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: It's interesting that, you know, folks working there are required, folks attending, not necessarily. But it's good to hear people are -- hopefully for the most part -- wearing them. Evan, thank you, in Prescott.

And that art festival, by the way, is just one of thousands of events happening this Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Dr. Syra Madad is a special pathogens expert and epidemiologist.

So Dr. Madad, welcome. Happy early Fourth to you.


BALDWIN: As you know, there is all this new research that the virus has mutated to become more infectious. Today, the U.S. has more than 2.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases. What do you think the trajectory of that will be? Do we assume, come Monday morning after the holiday weekend, sort of like Memorial Day, we see it go up?

MADAD: Absolutely. We've obviously in a very disturbing trend. If you look at, you know, the totality around the nation, you're seeing a record number of cases. Just in April, we had 30,000 daily cases. And now, as of yesterday, we had over 52,000. So we're certainly headed in the wrong direction.

But on top of that, if you look at even the hospitalizations, looking at Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, Mississippi, they're having record number of hospitalizations. And what we know is that these are lagging indicators, meaning there's a lot of virus spreading around.

BALDWIN: Why is this mutated virus so much more infectious?

MADAD: So viruses mutate. I mean, that's something that's normal. But in terms of the biological significance, it seems that it's not making it more virulent, but this is something that I think is still being investigated. But certainly something to, you know, keep our eye on.

I think one of the things to also, you know, perhaps mention is, you know, while we're talking about mutation of viruses, of COVID-19, when we talk about vaccines, there are only, I think -- we're on a good timeline.

But one of the things I'm very concerned about is, come fall and winter, we're going to have seasonal flu. This is something we have every year. So we want to make sure that we are implementing these measures in terms of wearing a mask, telling people to socially distance themselves as much as possible. So that we can bring down the case count.

BALDWIN: I'm glad you brought up the flu and the flu shot. I know a lot of people, you know, don't believe in it or don't do it, but this is something that even Fauci, when he was testifying last week on Capitol Hill, brought up, that it would be just a total double whammy this fall with the flu and with coronavirus.

And you bring up the vaccine, so let me jump to that. The first clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine was expected to begin July 9th. It is now pushed to the end of July, maybe early August. Why do you think it'd be delayed?

MADAD: Well, this is not unusual when we talk about vaccine development. You have, you know, various points where you may have to re-evaluate the protocol, and that is what's happening. We don't have much more information on what exactly they're re-evaluating within the protocol.


But I think in terms of just the overall timeline, hopefully we are still on-track to have, you know, an effective vaccine by end of this year, early next year. But that's really not our only problem. Our problem is also scaling up manufacturing, making sure we have enough for all of Americans. And that's probably not going to be the case.

You'll probably have a couple of batches first available, you know, probably going to first responders, health care workers, those on the frontlines and those in the high-risk group. And then as more vaccines are made available, it'll be, you know, for the general American public.

But we also need to make sure we have a good campaign to make sure people understand why it's important to get vaccinated. You know, anti-vaxxer is a big movement, so we really need to make sure that we are, you know, looking into that. But I think generally, you know, right now we're in the Fourth of July

weekend, people really need to go back to basics. So when we talk about reducing, you know, disease transmission in general, it's the same basic facts in preventing the spread of COVID-19. You know, obviously wearing your mask, keeping your distance.

But I think another big thing to also note is, people are having barbecues and getting together. And so there's a lot of sharing of utensils, a lot of sharing of various items. We want to make sure we minimize (ph).

BALDWIN: Such a great point. You know, if you're going to gather and you do socially distance and wear the masks, just don't share the drinks, don't share the forks for the barbecue, it's a great note.

What about hospitals? You know, we've been showing these pieces, the last couple of days, taking us inside these Texas hospitals. I know Harris County and San Antonio are really, you know, they have a real dearth of ICU beds.

And I know we were just talking to our correspondent in Arizona, the number of ICU beds there is quickly dwindling. And doctors we've interviewed are just telling us stories about how -- how are they supposed to choose when they have X number of beds and so many more, you know, really sick, sick patients? How will -- and then, you know, factor in this Fourth of July weekend, and potential superspreading activities. How can these hospitals keep up?

MADAD: It's a very disturbing trend, and we're -- you know, if we continue on this track, we are going to see even more hospitals become overwhelmed, and that's exactly what we don't want to do. That's why we went into shelter-in-place earlier, you know, in the year, to make sure hospitals don't get overwhelmed and to help buy us time as a nation to bring some of these infrastructures in place, like contact tracing, you know, scaling up testing.

A lot of these states, you know, in the South have not done that, and you're seeing the ramifications of it happening now. And as I mentioned, you know, hospitalizations is a lagging indicator. And so, you know, you can add as many beds as you want in a hospital, but you need to have the appropriate staff and the supplies to go with it. And that's also going to be a big impact.

And so it's a very worrying trend. We want to make sure people understand this is something to take seriously.

BALDWIN: I appreciate all of that, Dr. Syra Madad. Thank you very much, have a safe weekend yourself.

And speaking of Fourth of July, if you have decided to just stay in for your holiday, we have a whole evening of fireworks and an all-star musical guest to keep you entertained. So join Don Lemon and Dana Bash. We're calling it CNN's "FOURTH OF JULY IN AMERICA." You can tune in starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night.

Coming up next, a tale of two leaders: How the Canadian prime minister is putting President Trump to shame when it comes to their coronavirus response.


And the NFL commissioner throws his support behind a possible name- change for the Washington Redskins. What the team's owner is now saying about this idea.


BALDWIN: As the U.S. continues to set new single-day records for cases, our neighbors to the north in Canada are experiencing a completely different situation. We'll show you this graph, and you take a look at the lines. While the number of cases in the United States has been on a steep rise for months, Canada has somehow managed to keep their cases low and steady.

CNN's Paula Newton is with me now. And, Paula, how is it that Canada has just done this so right?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: So I want to preface all this, Brooke -- and you know, you've gone through it already -- that there are so many people in Canada right now saying, Look, we didn't do everything right. And they are absolutely right about that, it is a disservice to all the people that have died of COVID in Canada to say it that way.

But there was a key difference, Brooke. And me (ph), following this virus in Canada for five months, speaking to dozens of experts right across the country, the issue is, Brooke, they had a healthy respect for this virus. And at every turn, they realized they had to get it under control.


NEWTON (voice-over): For Canada, it's been a hallmark of the pandemic: empty hospitals. The feared wave of COVID patients never happened.

Canada started out much like the United States. But as the COVID curve climbed, Canada crushed it, now seeing, on average, just a few hundred new positive cases a day. That means right now, the U.S. is reporting more than 10 times more positive cases per capita than Canada. And yet no one here is declaring mission accomplished.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: What the situation we're seeing in the United States and elsewhere highlights for us, is that even as our economy is reopening, we need to make sure we are continuing to remain vigilant, individually and collectively.

NEWTON (voice-over): Vigilance has been the watchword.